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Divorce

Technically, a divorce is a judgment from a court that legally ends a marriage. It determines the former husband and wife’s rights and responsibilities concerning property, money to support one or both of them, and arraignments for their children. Divorce ends all of the legal rights gained by marriage. A divorced spouse no longer has the right to support (except for alimony that may be awarded by the court) or a share of the other’s estate when he or she dies.  

 

If there is no marital property involved, (which generally includes all property acquired from the date of marriage to the date of final separation, including the increase in value during that period of property owned prior to marriage), husband and wife, who both agree to the divorce, can obtain a divorce decree in a little over ninety (90) days from the service of the divorce complaint upon the non-filing spouse. If one of the parties does not wish to get divorced, the other party typically has to wait two (2) years from the date of separation before the court will address the divorce, and any economic issues which may exist. When there are marital assets involved, the parties can reach an agreement as to how they are to be divided. Otherwise, the court may be left to decide before the parties will be divorced. Most divorces are eventually settled by agreement, rather than by court order.

 

This area of the law usually involves one or more of the following:

•  Divorce Complaint based upon fault or no-fault grounds

•  Spousal Support during the pendency of the divorce, and often times afterwards in the form of Alimony

•  Child Support

•  Claims for Equitable Distribution (the division of the marital assets under the Divorce Code)

•  Interim counsel fees

Spousal Support

If a husband and wife become separated while still married; one can claim spousal support from the other. The amount of support is based upon state guidelines which consider the parties respective incomes. For example, if the party claiming spousal support earns more than the non-claiming party, it is unlikely that the claiming party will receive an award of spousal support.  

 

While one spouse can voluntarily pay another spouse support to maintain himself/herself while the parties are separated or during the pendency of the divorce, most cases require the filing of a support complaint with the Domestic Relations Office in the county in which the parties live. A claim for support is heard by a conference officer who takes all of the parties’ income information at an informal conference to determine whether the claiming party is entitled to support, and if so, in what amount. If a finding of support is made, either party may appeal the decision to a Judge. Claims for support typically involve the following:

Child Support

All parents are required by law to support their children. A child has a right to be supported by his parents, even if the parents are divorced. When parents become separated or divorced, the physical custody of the minor children may be agreed upon or may be the subject of a custody action and ultimately determined by the court.  In any event, the custodial parent may, unless otherwise agreed, seek child support from the non-custodial parent. As with spousal support, the amount of child support depends on the parents respective incomes. The parent required to pay child support must do so until the child reaches the age of 18, or until the child graduates from high school, whichever is last to occur. Child support cases typically involve the following: 

•  Complaint for child support if one is not already part of the divorce complaint

•  Attendance at a support hearing, similar to that for spousal support

•  Appeals from support orders

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  • The preparation of a Support Complaint if a claim is not included in the Divorce Complaint

  • Representation of the party seeking the support, or the party against whom support is sought at a support hearing or before a Judge

  • Claims for Alimony pending the divorce

Fees: All family law matters are charged on an hourly basis.